Christopher Fearne (born 12 March 1963) is a Maltese physician and politician. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Health in April 2014 and Minister for Health since April 2016. In July 2017, the Labour Party elected him as Deputy Leader for Parliamentary Affairs, thus assuming the role of Deputy Prime Minister of Malta and Leader of the House.

The Honourable

Chris Fearne

Informal meeting of health ministers (iEPSCO). Arrivals Chris Fearne (35653640850).jpg
Chris Fearne (2017)
Deputy Prime Minister of Malta
Assumed office
17 July 2017
PresidentMarie Louise Coleiro Preca
George Vella
Prime MinisterJoseph Muscat
Robert Abela
Preceded byLouis Grech
Minister of Health
Assumed office
28 April 2016
Prime MinisterJoseph Muscat
Robert Abela
Preceded byKonrad Mizzi
Parliamentary Secretary for Health
In office
1 April 2014 – April 28, 2016
Prime MinisterJoseph Muscat
Preceded byPosition Established
Succeeded byPosition Abolished
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Parliamentary Affairs
Assumed office
15 July 2017
Preceded byLouis Grech
Member of Parliament
Assumed office
13 March 2013
Personal details
Born (1963-03-12) 12 March 1963 (age 56)
Attard, Crown Colony of Malta
Political partyLabour Party
Spouse(s)Astrid
Children3
Alma materUniversity of Malta
St Aloysius’ College

EducationEdit

Fearne received his formal education at St. Aloysius College and at the University of Malta. As a student, Fearne was involved in a number of youth organizations. He served as Secretary General of the Maltese Federation of Youth Organisations, officer within the University Students’ Council, KSU, and in the Malta Medical Students' Association.[1]

He qualified in Medicine and Surgery in 1987, becoming a Fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He worked and studied in a number of children’s hospitals in England, including Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.[2]

Medical careerEdit

Prior to his appointment as Parliamentary Secretary for Health in April 2014, he worked as a Consultant Paediatric Surgeon and Clinical Chairman at Mater Dei Hospital.[3] He is a Member of Parliament for the Labour Party and was the Chairman of the Foreign and European Affairs Committee at the Maltese House of Representatives.[3][4]

Fearne has worked as a doctor and surgeon since 1987. He was also a lecturer in Paediatric Surgery at the University of Malta and an examiner at its Medical School. Fearne is a founding director of the Malta Institute for Medical Education and the chairperson of Celebrities for Kids, a voluntary NGO promoting children's rights.

Political careerEdit

Fearne was elected to the House of Representatives in March 2013 following the electoral victory of the Labour Party in that General Election. Following a reshuffle in the cabinet in April 2014 by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Fearne was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Health under the office of the Minister for Energy and Health Konrad Mizzi. This was the first position he held as part of the Government of Malta. Fearne was appointed Minister of Health in April 2016.

On 15 July 2017, Fearne was elected as the Deputy Leader for Parliamentary Affairs of the Labour Party, succeeding Louis Grech, and following his election as Deputy Leader for Parliamentary Affairs, Chris Fearne was sworn in as the Deputy Prime Minister of Malta.

Fearne said that the damage done to Malta from the resignations following the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia was almost irreparable.[5]

Following the announcement of the resignation of Joseph Muscat from Prime Minister of Malta and Leader of the Labour party, Fearne was the first Member of Parliament to officially express his intention of contesting for the vacated role.[6][7][8][9][10] Fearne was endorsed by many fellow MPs.[11][12][13][14] Fearne would run for Leader of the Partit Laburista, a position which would effectively see him sworn as Prime Minister of Malta.

Minister of HealthEdit

On February 27, 2019, Fearne said that abortion was the reason why Malta dropped 10 places in the Public Service Ranking of the Euro health consumer index, although the official report did not match up with this claim.

On April 22, as Health Minister, Fearne announced the start of a project of €40 million for a new "health hub" in Raħal Ġdid, which would act as a regional medical centre. Fearne explained that the total cost includes €25 million for the infrastructure, and that €33 million are funded by the European Union.[15]

On May 14, 2019, Fearne announced that the Government of Malta would be investing €3 million in cancer treatment. He announced that there would be the introduction of PD-1 inhibitors in the government's formulary at the Oncology Centre at Mater Dei Hospital.[16]

On September 12, 2019, Fearne launched a three year plan to reinstate health centres in every locality where primary health care would be prioritised.[17] Reportedly, Fearne's Ministry was looking to open a new health centre in Żabbar and refurbish the one in Żejtun by mid-October 2019, and in 2020 the Ministry would open new ones in Valletta, Marsaxlokk and Vittoriosa, refurbish Għaxaq, Santa Luċija and Tarxien and seek for new premises in Kalkara and Ħamrun.[18][19][20][21]

Medicine pricing transparencyEdit

Fearne spearheaded the Valletta Declaration initiative. Agreed upon in 2017, during the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Valletta Declaration consisted of ten EU Member States: Malta, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Ireland and Slovenia,[22] and aimed at establishing a technical and political cooperation on cross-border health matters such as anti-microbial resistance and price transparency of innovative medicines.[23]

Speaking to Politico, Fearne said that if "we can go to the industry as a group and say that it’s no longer acceptable to have this secrecy on any negotiating procedure, then the industry will have to take note." [24]

Pharmaceutical companies objected to the Malta-led proposal. At that stage, pharmaceutical companies individually negotiated the supplies of medicines including those medicines deemed to be innovative and which could cure rare diseases. According to Fearne pharma companies are at an advantage position as countries are not in a position to divulge the prices they are paying for the medicines procured. The medicines in question were prohibitively expensive for most national health services and their procurement threatens the sustainability of systems.[25][26]

According to Fearne, “the model that we will be proposing (...) is that member states which are [providing] funds should aim to go into agreement with the industry to share the benefits when there are new drugs on the market. The industry wants and needs support from member states because it’s evident that industry on its own is not going in for the risk of developing new antibiotics.[24]

While speaking at a Politico Healthcare summit in July 2019, in Amsterdam, Fearne called on his counterparts to push for new rule at European level to share drug prices among Member States. Fearne and the Valletta Declaration group countered the pharmaceutical industry arguments that price transparency leads to higher prices. He was quote saying that “the industry tells us that price transparency would push prices up. Let’s be frank, it’s not true”.[24]

ControversiesEdit

Fearne was criticised by the local media regarding appointments to the Foundation for Medical Services. A party activist, Carmen Ciantar, was given a financial package of €104,000 on her appointment as FMS CEO. [27] Ciantar had close ties to Fearne, being one of his personal electoral campaign managers.[28] Fearne was alleged to be in a relationship with Ciantar, though these allegations were later withdrawn.[29]

FamilyEdit

Fearne and his wife Astrid have three children: Dawn, Julian, and Rafael.[30]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Chris Fearne Biography". deputyprimeminister.gov.mt.
  2. ^ Fearne, Chris (November 1, 2018). "The professor was right - Chris Fearne". Times of Malta. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  3. ^ a b "Updated - Parliamentary Secretary Chris Fearne to stop seeing Mater Dei patients, except for four acute cases". Times of Malta. 31 March 2014.
  4. ^ Dalli Miriam (24 September 2013). "Private member's bill to criminalize female genital mutilation". Malta Today. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Chris Fearne: Damage to Malta's reputation 'almost irreparable'". Times of Malta. 25 Nov 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  6. ^ Galea, Albert (6 December 2019). "Chris Fearne announces he will contest for PL leadership; gets Borg, Bonnici support". www.independent.com.mt. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  7. ^ Diacono, Tim (2019-12-06). "Chris Fearne Officially Announces Bid To Become Malta's Next Prime Minister With Backing Of Ian Borg". Lovin Malta. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  8. ^ "Deputy PM Chris Fearne first Labour MP to contest for leadership race". www.maltachamber.org.mt. 6 December 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  9. ^ Dallison, Paul (2019-12-06). "Maltese deputy PM says he wants to replace Muscat". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  10. ^ Dallison, Paul (2019-12-06). "Maltese deputy PM says he needs to exchange Muscat". Post of Asia. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  11. ^ Grech, Herman; Martin, Ivan (6 December 2019). "Chris Fearne announces leadership bid, favourite to become PM". Times of Malta. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  12. ^ Diacono, Tim (2019-12-06). "Here's All The Labour Politicians Who Have Endorsed Chris Fearne As Prime Minister". Lovin Malta. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  13. ^ Galea, Albert (6 December 2019). "Labour MPs in push to have Chris Fearne as only contender for party leadership". MaltaToday.com.mt. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  14. ^ Hudson, David (6 December 2019). "Labour MPs close ranks as Chris Fearne announces leadership bid". MaltaToday.com.mt. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  15. ^ Magri, Giulia (22 April 2019). "Government investing €40 million in new health hub in Paola - The Malta Independent". www.independent.com.mt. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  16. ^ https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/lifestyle/health/94988/watch_government_will_invest_3_million_per_year_in_new_cancer_treatment#.Xet6nuhKhPY
  17. ^ https://www.tvm.com.mt/en/news/minister-chris-fearne-three-year-plan-which-will-see-health-centres-in-every-locality/
  18. ^ Zammit, Melvic (12 September 2019). "Pjan biex fi 3 snin ikun hawn ċentru tas-saħħa f'kull lokalità - TVM". TVM Maltese. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  19. ^ Micallef, Jeremy (12 September 2019). "Every town and village to have health centre in three years – Chris Fearne - The Malta Independent". www.independent.com.mt. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  20. ^ Magri, Giulia (8 October 2019). "Three-year project to provide a public community health centre in each town - The Malta Independent". www.independent.com.mt. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  21. ^ Apap, Luisa (2019-09-13). ""Government planning health centre in every locality"". Newsbook. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  22. ^ "Malta health minister: European rules needed for drug-price sharing". Politico. 21 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Valletta Declaration tackling medicine price transparency issue". The Malta Independent. 12 July 2019.
  24. ^ a b c "Q&A with Maltese Health Minister". Politico. 11 July 2019.
  25. ^ "Expensive medicine is a threat to sustainability of healthcare in Europe, Fearne says". MaltaToday. 3 October 2019.
  26. ^ "Pharmaceutical companies object to Malta-led proposal for better transparency; As things stand, countries cannot divulge the price they pay for medicines". Times of Malta. 28 July 2019.
  27. ^ "PL activist is given twice her minister's pay as CEO". Times of Malta. 19 February 2017.
  28. ^ "Foundation CEO 'vanishes' for two months to work on Fearne's campaigns". Times of Malta. 23 July 2017.
  29. ^ "PN's David Thake stirs rumour of affair, then goes back upon minister's denial". MaltaToday. 24 February 2017.
  30. ^ DPM.gov.mt

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Louis Grech
Deputy Prime Minister of Malta
2017–
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
Konrad Mizzi
Minister of Health
2016–
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Louis Grech
Deputy Leader of the Malta Labour Party
Parliamentary Affairs

2017–
Succeeded by
Incumbent